Blood testing has become high tech, with the advent of a new implantable chip created by Swiss researchers.

The chip is approximately 14 millimeters in length and contains multiple sensors that react to chemicals and molecules in the blood. The implantable chip can be used to detect various enzymes in the body. Some of these enzymes may be early signs of potential health risks.

Created by scientists Giovanni de Micheli and Sandro Carrara at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), the creators assert that the device can detect heart attacks hours in advance, according to the article.

Not only that, but the data can be wirelessly sent to doctor’s mobile phones via Bluetooth. The chip broadcasts data through wireless radio waves to the battery patch, which in turn transmits the data via Bluetooth to a physician’s mobile app.

“The implant, a real gem of concentrated technology, is only a few cubic millimeters in volume but includes five sensors, a radio transmitter and a power delivery system. Outside the body, a battery patch provides 1/10 watt of power, through the patient’s skin – thus there’s no need to operate every time the battery needs changing.”

The design of the tiny device is very clever, with great care focused on the sensors. In fact, to detect a specific substance in the body–such as lactate, glucose, or ATP, the surface of each sensor is covered with a specific enzyme.

“Potentially, we could detect just about anything,” explains De Micheli. “But the enzymes have a limited lifespan, and we have to design them to last as long as possible.” The enzymes currently being tested are good for about a month and a half; that’s already long enough for many applications. “In addition, it’s very easy to remove and replace the implant, since it’s so small. The electronics were a considerable challenge as well. “It was not easy to get a system like this to work on just a tenth of a watt,” de Micheli explains. The researchers also struggled to design the minuscule electrical coil that receives the power from the patch.”

The iMedicalApps team has previously reported on various sensor technologies. We previously discussed smart pills with edible microchips capable of transmitting physiological data to smartphones or computers. The system captures exactly what medications have been taken.

There are also wearable sensors that can be used for remote patient monitoring that we have previously mentioned such as BodyGuardian. BodyGuardian combines a wearable sensor, a modified Android-based Samsung smartphone, and advanced monitoring algorithms developed at the Mayo Clinic to help improve detection of arrhythmia.

The implantable device developed by EFFL also has the potential to be useful for patient’s undergoing chemotherapy as well as with chronic pain. The device can be used to measure the proper dosing of medication/chemotherapy. “It will allow direct and continuous monitoring based on a patient’s individual tolerance, and not on age and weight charts or weekly blood tests,” explained De Micheli.

Future developments seem promising, and can truly affect the outcome of patients. Researchers are hoping that the full system will be ready and be commercially available within 4 years.

Sources: The Verge and EurekAlert